14 Local Chefs’ Favorite Food Travel Destinations

Florence, Italy is a favorite food destination of Sticky Fingers' Doron Petersan.

Photo by Ashlie Hughes

Every New Year tempts with an endless array of travel possibilities, many ripe with indulgences for the food obsessed. To inspire your wanderlust, Metrocurean reached out to 14 local chefs to find out their favorite food destinations. From international food markets and local restaurant recommendations, to a McDonald’s in Taiwan, here’s what they had to say:

Todd Gray, Equinox and Watershed
Gray recommends La Boqueria Market in Barcelona, Spain as his #1 food destination. He adds: “The second would be to Irvington, Va., to eat local oysters from the Rappahannock and blue crab from the local rivers and creeks of the Northern Neck of the Bay. Beautiful, tranquil and local flavors of my childhood. Honestly, New York City is third, so many, many places!!”

Bryan Voltaggio, Volt and Lunchbox
Voltaggio suggests India, specifically Mumbai, and says: “There is so much to learn in terms of regional and traditional Indian cuisine that someone passionate about food could get lost for weeks discovering new flavors and ideas. My choice for best restaurant visit of last year was to NOMA (in Copenhagen, Denmark) — it was the best dining experience I have had. Rene Redzepi’s approach to cuisine taught me the most thus far in overall philosophy of modern cuisine. I plan to go back in July for MAD, a culinary symposium started last year by Chef Redzepi.”

Mike Isabella, Graffiato
Spain is the best culinary destination I've been to. The uniqueness and freshness of the products are unlike anything you can get in the U.S., particularly from the pigs and seafood that only come from that part of the world. Within Spain, I find Barcelona and northern Madrid to be two great food destinations."

Danny Bortnick, Firefly
“Not that this place is a big secret or anything, but the last time I was in New York City, I had dinner at The Spotted Pig. Inspiring would be an understatement. Here’s a place where they don’t take themselves too seriously, but they’re spot-on, consistently. Our meal made such a great impression, that my wife and I went back for brunch the following day.”

Spike Mendelsohn, Good Stuff Eatery and We, The Pizza
“I've lived and traveled all over Vietnam. My recommendation is to visit the wet markets. You can find the freshest produce, meat and fish in the whole country. The farmers and fishers know so much about local cuisine and are the biggest characters you'll meet on your entire trip.”

Tiffany MacIsaac, Buzz Bakery and the Neighborhood Restaurant Group, and husband  Kyle Bailey, Birch & Barley and Churchkey
San Francisco was everything we hoped it would be. We had breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinks every night, only breaking to nap in between. We did Flour + Water for dinner where we ordered all the pastas and made our own tasting menu. The service is as amazing as the pasta here. For brunch we went to Bar Agricole. Kumquat scones? Uh, yes please. Finished off the trip with lots of delicious cocktails. Only bad part was we only had three days!”

John Critchley, Urbana

Chatuchak Market in Bangkok is a must visit for anyone in Thailand on the weekend. Over 8,000 stalls!! Some of the greatest flavors from very humble beginnings.”

Doron Petersan, Founder of Sticky Fingers Sweets & Eats

Ashlie Hughes is pursuing her longtime dream of writing about food and travel. During her free time she enjoys trying new restaurants, searching for the perfect cocktail, and daydreaming about traveling the world. She currently writes a column titled The Aperitif and other articles for Patch.com.